NOT BAD, MITT, BUT STILL A FEW ROUGH PATCHES
Mitt Romney attacked Newt Gingrich at a campaign rally in Florida yesterday, and he did an adequate job, but there are a few kinks to work out:
"We're not choosing a talk show host," Romney said, alluding to his rival's strong debate performances that helped shift momentum in his favor in South Carolina. "We're choosing the person who should be leader of the free world."
Really? "A talk show host"? I don't know about you, but when I hear that phrase, I think of, well, Oprah. Doesn't everyone on the planet think of Oprah? Is that really the analogy that conveys the essential Newtness of Newt? C'mon, Mitt -- at least make us think about Jerry Springer guests, or the interviewees on pro wrestling broadcasts. Tell the crowd we're electing a president, not electing a Trash-Talker-in-Chief. Tell 'em if we were electing a Trash-Talker-in Chief, hell, you'd vote for Gingrich. Just keeopp saying "Trash-Talker-in-Chief." Not "talk show host." A surprising number of Americans would like Oprah as president.
He went on to list what he described as the qualities of a leader: integrity, sobriety, judgment, thoughtfulness, reliability and high ethical standards.
President Romney will help little old ladies cross the street!
..."At the end of four years as speaker of the House, it was proven that he was a failed leader," Romney said.
And you were governor for, um, how long, Mitt? Four years?
"He had to resign in disgrace. I don't know whether you knew that.... His fellow Republicans -- 88% of his Republicans -- voted to reprimand Speaker Gingrich. He has not had a record of successful leadership."
Well, Republicans hate government, so being forced to resign from Congress might come off as kind of a good thing, no? I'm not sure this part of the attack connects.
But Romney sought to tie the 1990s ethics investigation to Gingrich's recent work as an advisor to mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. "He talks about great, bold movements and ideas -- well what’s he been doing for 15 years? He's been working as a lobbyist ... and selling influence around Washington."
No, no, no, Mitt. You're there, but you're still using too many words. Don't say, "He's been working as a lobbyist ... and selling influence around Washington." Say, "He's been a Washington lobbyist." Washington lobbyist. Washington lobbyist. Washington lobbyist. Never say it any other way.
Gingrich has insisted that he never worked as a lobbyist. But to cheers in Ormond Beach, Romney demanded a public review of Gingrich's "work product" as an advisor to Freddie Mac.
"Work product"? Seriously? Mitt, are you attacking a rival or filling out a form from HR?
"Because Freddie Mac figures in very prominently to the fact that people in Florida have seen home values go down. It's time to turn that around."
No! Not "figures very prominently"! Every Fox viewers knows that Freddie and Fannie are 100% responsible for the meltdown! They're the alpha and omega! There is no other culprit! (Oh, except Barney Frank. And Jimmy Carter. And ACORN. But don't say any of that! Keep it simple, stupid!)
Now, this, I think, works, if you're trying to win over wingnuts who are still angry at Jane Fonda (and, Mitt, you are):
At one point during his outdoor rally at a building supply company, Romney was interrupted by protesters chanting, "We are the people." He quickly dismissed them.
"No, actually, these are the people," Romney shouted back. "These are the people; you're the interrupters. We believe in the Constitution. We believe in the right to speech. And you believe in interrupting. Take a hike."
Romney's supporters drowned them out by chanting "U-S-A." ...
"I love these guys, by the way, who don't like America and our free-enterprise system, and they have something else in mind," he said. "Take a look at Cuba; take a look at North Korea; take a look at the former Soviet Union. Our system works. What they're fighting for does not work. I believe in America."
Although Romney's determination to shout down anyone who ever tries to interrupt him reminds me of this:
Hey, Mitt: If it comes off as "Shut up, hippie," you're golden. If it comes off as "whiny third grade pedant demanding that the teacher make everyone hew strictly to the rules," well, the voters are going to give you a wedgie.
(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)